Nothing screams chic cocktail party like a tiny hot dog wrapped up snug in a warm puff pastry. This finger food is so fine it has its own national holiday.
While most every American loves to pop these little piggies into their mouths, the love for pigs in a blanket extends beyond our country’s border. It certainly sounds cruel, but the UK technique of wrapping the sausage in a juicy piece of bacon is bloody delicious. In Israel, they smother the puff pastry in ketchup before baking it and call the finished product Moshe Ba’Teiva. This translates to Moses in the Ark. It makes sense—bite for bite, eating pigs in a blanket is a religious experience. Here in the states, our blankets have no limits. For the one who can’t stand change, we have the puff pastry. For the adventurous heart, we have pancakes. And for the deeply disturbed, we have cabbage.
The earliest written record of pigs in a blanket is in Betty Crocker’s “Cooking for Kids,” published in 1957. But the dish may actually date back to the 17th century when field laborers in England would bake meat inside of dough for a quick meal on the go. And it may have originated even farther away in location, with claims that originally Asian cultures would bake fish inside a roll. While its true origin remains a mystery, it’s safe to say that we’ve perfected the recipe since back in the day.
The nice thing about these little nibbles is that you can decide just how gourmet you’re going to get. You can buy them frozen and lay them on a baking sheet in the oven. You can buy frozen dough and wrap the pigs yourself. Or you can make the dough from scratch, bake the pigs until their golden brown and dip them in Dijon. And if you’re really fancy, and you prefer to have the tiny swine served to you, you can find pigs in a blanket at local Champaign restaurants such as Taffies, Urbana Garden Family Restaurant and The Original Pancake House.
Perfectly placed on the brink of the summer months, pigs in a blanket are a great way to get the season started. Throw a party and make a batch or two. They’re mess-free, delicious and unlike hotdogs, you can eat a hundred of them and no one will judge you.